I watched as the House of Representatives passed HR 4156 to approve $50 billion dollars for the war in Iraq.
I heard cheers and claps come from the left side of the aisle. Speaker Pelosi had a smile on her face.
The perception among Democrats regarding the passage of this legislation is a symbolic victory and a devastating blow to President Bush.
Only a portion of the funds Bush requested will be appropriated with strict conditions such as redeploying our troops from Iraq and a total change in their mission.
In theory it sounds great. But in the end it is just what the Democrats perceive it to be - symbolic. It is all bark and no bite.
Senate majority leader Reid warned that if the Senate doesn't muster the votes to pass the bill (calling for a timeline for troop withdrawal) for Bush to veto there will be no more funding for Iraq. Bush reacted with a veto threat.
What happens then? Will the Democrats stand there ground? If so, what does that mean?
If the Democrats actually deny funding to Bush it is just basic math. Denying funding = cutting off money for the war. It would be an actual demonstration of exercising the "power of the purse." Do the Democrats have the courage to do that? The answer is obvious - NO.
Now just for a moment try to imagine that the bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed by Bush. The fact that the bill is non-binding means that Bush could just take the money and run. He doesn't have to comply with any demands to pull troops out and change course in Iraq.
Once he gets the money he will cook up another excuse for why the troops need to stay there. It has been proven time and time again that the man is a total pathological liar.
I don't mean to come down on this attempt by the Democrats to force change, but I am a realist and I know that this bill is not going anywhere. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I have been down this road before. We all have.
One of the main reasons for Bush's stubbornness is the fact that he is not going to be impeached. Bush knows this because Speaker Pelosi took impeachment off the table. It sent a message to Bush that he can operate however he wishes. Therefore he has no motivation to cooperate with Congress. It is just that simple.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news and I surely don't want to rain on anyone's parade ... but come on people. This whole thing is a charade.
When you see members of Congress promoting this legislation it gives the impression that it actually means something substantial. Like it is some kind of legal mandate requiring Bush to do a total 360 on his Iraq policy. Don't be fooled.
Knowledge is power. If your members of Congress know that you are privy to their participation in the political process they may be more reluctant to insult your intelligence by expecting you to be duped by non-binding legislation that they know will surely fail.
In order for them to know you must express it to them. Call their office or stop in for a visit. Have a nice little chat with their staff and ask them to convey the message to the Representative. Let them know you are educating and organizing others in their district as well. Do anything it takes to get their attention and put them on the spot every chance you get.
It is Congress that must end the war in Iraq and they have the power to do it. They just need to be tougher and more intimidating when dealing with Bush.
I know that sounds primitive in nature, but this man can not be handed any more money for his bloodbath in Iraq without "binding" limitations on how he can spend it.
This is a life and death situation. If we cheer the Democrats on with this we ourselves are playing politics with people's lives - American and Iraqi.
Some may not believe this but I am a Democrat. But I feel like a Democrat in need of rehabilitation. Once my party starts showing backbone I'll be a recovering Democrat--if that makes any sense. Sort of like a 12 step program.
Until that time comes I'll continue to drive on in my efforts to push both sides of the aisle (Republicans and Democrats) to end this war.
PS. I am already in eager anticipation to see if the Democrats throw this back in Bush's face after the veto, provided it makes it to his desk. That is all they will have to do to redeem themselves in my eyes.